So I can’t let Rick Reilly’s article go. Maybe that was part of his cunning plan: so infuriate the Irish that they go on an undefeated run which causes him enormous pleasure because that entire bit about him turning in his fan card was actually a literary deceit. But in all likelihood, he was being sincere and he was actually offended that NBC didn’t tear up its contract with Notre Dame. So this season, a season in which The Irish have “returned to relevance” (those are air quotes – we’ve never stopped being relevant) should be analyzed a la Tex, our new fearless Editor-In-Chief (but without the circles and dramatic action-arrows) (and perhaps with no more parentheticals).
Thanks to the good people at www.sportsmediawatch.com, we know that 2011 was pretty awful, from NBC’s perspective: a 2.1 rating for the USF game, 2.6 for Michigan State, 1.1 for Air Force and a 2.1 rating for USC. A 1.0 ratings point means, essentially, that one percent (1%) of the viewing population, in this case adults ages 18-49, tuned in. To put these numbers in perspective, this week’s Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC drew a 14.1, which equates to over 22 million viewers. I am sure some of them stopped drooling over Faith Hill’s legs by kickoff. I am talking to you Grantland-X.
In any event, 2012 is a different thing altogether. First, though, a word about my research. I cannot find the ratings for the Navy game. If anyone can and they can post them in the comments, that’d be awesome. But here’s what I found: Notre Dame is playing with the boys in 2012. Compare the BYU game’s 2.7 rating (up 125% from last year’s fifth game) to other, “more relevant” schools: 3.3 for Florida versus South Carolina on CBS, 1.7 (a 1.7) (!) for Kansas State versus West Virginia and a 2.6 for Alabama versus Tennessee. What I like about this comparison, is that you’ve got cable (ESPN) and broadcast channels (FOX, CBS, ABC and NBC) in the mix.
The Stanford game (a 3.3 rating) was second only to South Carolina against LSU on ESPN, which drew a 3.7 rating and a gator’s tooth under six million households. The Miami game drew only a 2.2 and was the second-least watched game in its time-slot. Still, again as the good people at sportsmediawatch.com point out, that’s a one hundred percent increase over last year’s third NBC game.
Michigan State was number one on ABC with a 3.3 rating on ABC and Michigan was numero uno on NBC, drawing a whopping 4.0 share. Please note that those are the only times Sparty and the Skunkbears will appear in the same sentence with “number one” this season. Very interestingly, the Michigan State game outdrew USC versus Stanford on Fox by almost an entire ratings point, 0.8.
So it seems as though this little prong of Rick Reilly’s argument can be taken away. ND’s ratings aren’t just up this season, they’re doing really well — keep in mind (perspective) that at any given moment on a Saturday that there are 147 games to watch. ND’s ability to either dominate (MSU, Michigan) or show up strong (BYU, Stanford, Navy(????)) is still there, baby.
Which leads me to Purdon’t. The singular blemish on the table is that giant morass of innanity called Purdue. NBC’s home opener, something you would expect could draw a few eye-balls, clearly did not comprehend or anticipate the shit-giving-suck that is Purdue. The Purdue game eeked out a 1.9 rating, or 2.8 million televisions. HLS pulls a 2.3 on a Thursday, brah. Okay, that part’s made up, but the rest of it is not. Purdue kills ratings.
So where do we go from here? Clearly a high 4.0 — Michigan and Alabama drew a 4.8 and it’s GameDay again (killing you, innit, Rick?) and the ESPN media machine’s going to do it’s thing, so I don’t think a 4.6 to 4.9 is out of the question. A 5.0 would make me really, really feel good. So would 8-0.